This post is not meant to be full of sarcasm, humour or snark, this is serious business. As a nurse, working with at least 95% females in my profession, a lot of whom are in the child-bearing age as I am, I get asked about my children and the possibility of future children all the time. When I had my first baby, there were 10 other nurses pregnant at the same time, so it’s always a legitimate question to ask about more babies…or is it?
Here are some reasons why I feel you should never ask a woman if she’s pregnant or planning on having babies, and if you know she’s pregnant, some things you should also not say.
We have been so blessed that we have never had problems conceiving a baby. It only took 3 months with our first, 1 month with our second, and while we weren’t actively “trying” for our third pregnancy it did happen and we got pregnant again right away for our fourth pregnancy, third baby. However, as a mom who has had many friends struggle with infertility, I am always conscious of not asking “so, when are you ever going to have a baby?”, to any woman in the child-bearing age, because you never ever know how long they’ve been trying and not conceiving. I carelessly (didn’t know better at the time) asked this of a paramedic at work if he and his wife were thinking of kids and he responded that “well, we’ve been trying….” and I felt so awful. I knew I hurt his feelings, I certainly would never intentionally do this, but it taught me a big lesson for the future. Now I don’t ask, I wait for the news.
I am empathetic to why so many people at work were asking if I was pregnant. We had been talking a lot, any time I was at work, if baby #3 was a possibility for us. I always answered that we weren’t sure, and that we’d wait and see. One night shift at work I got asked three times if I was pregnant, and I had to answer “I was…but I’m actually having a miscarriage right now…”. It was good to talk about it, but at the same time it was awkward and I didn’t want to talk about it at all. Some couples have no problem getting pregnant, but have problems staying pregnant. Another thing to keep in mind when pressuring a woman to share her plans for pregnancy and babies.
I am tall and slender person, I always have been. Even if I carry some extra weight, it’s never in my stomach, yet still — even I have been asked “are you pregnant?!” when I most certainly was not…nowhere near pregnant, in fact. Never ever ask a woman if she’s pregnant, solely because she has a “belly”. Some people don’t even realize how long it can take for a post-partum uterus and belly to shrink remotely back to normal. So many friends and family have had the remark of “you’re pregnant AGAIN!?”, a few weeks or even months post-partum, when it takes most women time to lose that baby weight and their bodies to go back to normalish. Some women get bloated or gain weight in their bellies that haven’t had babies yet, it’s just always safest to not go there and ask.
No Plans for Children
I have a few friends that have decided that they don’t want children, and I would imagine the question of when and if they are going to have children, gets tiresome after awhile. Parenting, babies and children is not for everyone, it’s a huge decision to make, and that is no one’s business but their own.
No, She’s Likely Not Having Twins
When people, especially strangers, do ask if you’re pregnant (and you are) and when your due date is, quite often it can be accompanied by rude remarks of how big a woman is with “are you sure there’s not 2 or 3 in there?” or “you look like you’re going to pop any minute!” when there are months left to go. When is it ever okay to comment on anyone’s weight gain? Never! There is no exception when a woman is pregnant. I have had quite a few comments on how “big” I am already, just starting my second trimester with our third baby. I’ve been pregnant with 3 babies in <6 years…my uterus is like a balloon that has already been inflated to accommodate two full-term babies before—it knows what it’s doing and it can do it again very easily. So yes, I may seem big, but no I’m not farther along than I look nor am I having twins.
Are You Big Enough?
On the other end of the weight spectrum, some women carry very small and have completely normal and healthy babies. Let’s just not “go there” ever with a woman’s weight. Seems like common sense, but trust me—it’s not. It’s really not something we can control, believe it or not, and it’s certainly no one’s business.
Was This Pregnancy Planned?
I was asked this for the first time ever, with this pregnancy, and it honestly took me aback. I didn’t know how to answer, so I fumbled a “yes”. I mean, it is a yes, it was a yes…but our third pregnancy and miscarriage wasn’t a complete “yes”…so I felt awkward and felt the need to explain that situation. It was just awkward. Whether it’s the first baby or the sixth, it’s really no one but the mom and the dad’s business how many children and why they are having them, it isn’t. This question isn’t productive or kind. If a pregnancy wasn’t planned and a mom is a bit bluesy about it, is it going to help to point that out?
You Want a Certain Gender, Right?
We have always left the gender of our babies a surprise until the delivery room, and this one will be the same. I am getting asked and teased more than ever whether or not we will find out the sex of this baby, especially because we have people rooting for a girl because we already have two boys. It’s a fair and legitimate question that you’re guaranteed to get asked, and it truly doesn’t bother me to be asked if we will find out, however—it goes both ways. I know women who get bugged about finding out the sex and not letting it be a delivery room surprise. Ask away, it’s a common and valid question to ask, but leave the judgments about the parents’ decision to yourself, even if they have 5 of one gender children.
Of course, this is how I feel about it all. Perhaps when people have asked you and your husband about pregnancy, fertility and babies…it opens up the door to having those hard, but therapeutic conversations and that can be a good thing.
However for you, the asker of one or more of these questions: I know you’ve likely had good intentions asking about pregnancy and plans for babies, etc…but just consider these points, the next time you want to ask a woman about any of these things. Just wait for the news of pregnancy, it will spread like wildfire, trust me—and just congratulate them and keep the other questions/remarks to yourself. There’s likely more behind her story than you realize, and I hope this has helped shed some light on why you should never ask a woman if she’s pregnant, unless she’s actively in labour and you need to help her deliver or find someone who can!